Kim Bentz

Kim Bentz
Fairfax, Virginia,
Middle aged and starting over, falling victim to the economic downturn and my own bad judgment. ---------------------------------------------- My mind has never been changed by force or angry voices. My thoughts, opinions and convictions have been changed by the gentle wisdom of kind friends; by thoughtful prose; by great reporting; by intelligent, not demeaning, persuasively written words; and by love. Of these, the loving chastisement, gently spoken has the most power to alter the course of my thoughts. ------------------------------------------------


JANUARY 18, 2010 12:43PM

Are All Your Stories Horrible?

Rate: 1 Flag

In answer to your question...No.  All my stories are not horrible.  And frankly, I'm not sure I even understand the question.  I tell a family story, laughing so hard I can barely get the words out, and you ask me if all my stories are horrible.  If it makes you laugh can it really be that horrible?

Maybe it just makes me laugh.  Along with that exclusive club known as my siblings.  Do your tales of picnics in the park, frisbee games, baseball with the they make you laugh?  They make you smile, with that odd nostalgic look some of you so-called "normal" people get on your faces when discussing childhood, but do they make you laugh?

Disfunction and insanity are under-rated in my book.

Our family photos tell a story.  In one, I can look at the expression on my brother's face and tell that, oh, yeah,  this is the one where my sister just peed in his lap.  Mom and Dad said to just keep shooting.  We'll clean it up when we're done, or words to that effect.  Nothing like urine in the lap to make those expressions of joy ring true.

Oh, a later picture, most of us in our teens.  This one is in color, with a backdrop of shelves full of books painted on canvas.  We are all looking rather grim, with tightlipped smiles which do not reach our eyes.  They were yelling at us to get ready, yelling at us in the car all the way to the studio, where Mom and Dad proceeded to have an argument over the backgdrop.  Dad won.  No one looks like they won anything.

What isn't funny about that one?

And then there's the one...(cough. snort)...the one where...oh, wait.  I was going to tell you NICE stories.

We went camping.  That was our family vacation.  Camping and backpacking.  Fishing and camping and backpacking.  It was nice.  Aside from all the endless work of it, Dad actually relaxed once camp was set up and the fire pit readied.  He had his felt cowboy hat on his head, spare flies hooked through the band, a woven creel hung across his chest, and would be wading down the middle of a river, the line whipping back and forth...a thing of beauty, looking just like those scenes out of "A River Runs Through It".  The river made its music, the wind in the trees rustled an accompaniment...birds hit the occasional harmony.  

Dad was fun when he was camping.  At least he was a lot more fun than at home.  See, Dad was a raging...diabetic.  You thought I was going to say alcoholic or drunk.  Dad was a raging diabetic.  His moods were driven by his own tortured childhood and his blood sugar swings.  He had been taught that to control your blood sugar and to prevent the worst long-term damage to organs and eyes, you needed to keep a much lower blood sugar than was/is standard.  He would allow himself at least one small insulin reaction each day.  They coincided with his arrival at home, and our nightly horror sessions called "dinner".  

It was different in the mountains.  He was happier there than anywhere and apparently his job was one long nightmare, with a twisted boss who berated him but also stole his work and his ideas and took credit for them.  His respite would come in business trips to the Arctic wonderlands of Thule, Greenland or Clear AFB, Alaska.  Those months in sub-zero temperatures in a land without sun, were his delight.  That, and our trips camping.  

Dad is an excellent fly-fisherman.  At least he was.  In his day, he could place that fly exactly where he wanted it.  He knew where the fish were hiding and he could flick that fly onto the water and off without slapping the line, as I tend to do.   He was also, once his blood sugar was normalized and he relaxed, a great story-teller.  It was in the mountains that he told us ghost stories around the fire and sang, "K-k-k-Katie, my beautiful Katie..." and "Freckles".  My favorite memories of Dad involve him crossing beaver dams, fishing pole in hand, or wading down the middle of some random river in Colorado (the East River?  The Arkansas?) flicking that fly through the air, and pulling up rainbow trout for dinner.  They involve fried trout cooked over a campfire and ghost stories after dinner ("it happened right over there...on the side of that far hill, back in 1957..."), the smell of woodsmoke in the air and in my hair, sitting close to the fire, my front side too hot, my backside too cold, burning marshmallows on twisted coat hangers over the fire.

All my stories are not horrible.  See?

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Who said they were. Actually, the fun stems from your stories being so real. Well done, keep going, rated.
Thoth: You're very gracious. Thank you for your many kind comments.